Recipe: My Favorite Pasta Salad!

In my recent post about hosting a mermaid-themed party, I mentioned that we will be serving pasta salad.

One of the things that I love about pasta salad is that it’s so flexible.

Basically, all you need is a pound of pasta (your choice) cooked per package directions, drained, and rinsed. After that, whatever you add is up to you.

  • I use 1 cup of dressing to start. Usually, I use zesty Italian-type dressing, but if you are a pesto lover, 1 jar/can of pesto and a few tablespoons of your favorite oil (I like avocado oil) is excellent. Red or green pesto, whatever your preference is. If you are serving vegetarians, avoid red pesto because it contains anchovies.
  • 1 cup of diced cheese- Mozzarella, or mozzarella pearls, or cut up a couple string cheese sticks.
  • 2 cups vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces.  Bell peppers, broccoli, black olives, tomatoes (either grape or cherry), and fresh, shelled peas are some of my favorites.
  • Optional, but tasty: a bunch of fresh basil, cut into ribbons (chiffonade).

Mix all ingredients together, and store in a tightly closed container for at least 4-6 hours prior to serving.

This recipe serves about 8-10 as a side dish, less as a main dish. If you need to add meat to this, as a can or 2 pouches of chunk tuna, drained and rinsed.

Planning a Mermaid/Under the Sea Themed Party? Dollar Tree To The Rescue!

I’m working on planning a mermaid-themed party for a certain little girl in my house. Thankfully, Dollar Tree has some great supplies on the cheap! These are available in-store and online.

First off, check out these cool iridescent shell-shaped eggs. Perfect for hiding candy or tiny gifts like bracelets or rings. In the store, there are a lot of beaded necklaces, like there.

There are mermaid-themed party paper goods too. Plates, cups, and napkins. One thing I love about Dollar Tree is that with the rising costs of everything, I’m able to host cute themed parties and stay on budget.

I’m loving these cute mermaid buckets, they would be great for goodie baskets. If you aren’t sure what to put in them, I’d suggest mermaid facial masks, nail polish in “mermaid” colors- there are tons of colors in stores, mermaid tail shaped hand soaps,  Nail art sets, nail files (there are ocean/mermaid themed ones in the stores, and bath bombs- some stores have mermaid tail-shaped bath bombs. All locations have bath bombs in various scents and sizes.

Don’t forget to hit up the home decor area to look for beach, ocean, and mermaid themed signs.

As for snacks and menu, we’ll be serving:

  • Strawberry lemonade, complete with frozen strawberries (available in the stores) as our beverage.
  • Cold Pasta Salad using shell pasta (recipe is forthcoming)
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Fresh Fruit cut into star shapes- Watermelon, pineapple, apple (with a hole cut in the middle where I remove the apple core)

I love using the plastic “crystal” serving ware from Dollar Tree too. It makes the party look fancy, without worrying about little hands breaking anything special or vintage.

And for those wondering, we only invite 4-6 of Bitty’s good friends to parties. I can’t have a house full of 20+ kiddos. My neighbors would never forgive me. We may have a viewing of The Little Mermaid while we eat.

And of course, I’ll be making invitations on Canva for free, saving the image as a PDF, and either printing them out to hand out or emailing them to friends parents/guardians.

It’s Girl Scout Cookie Season

It’s cookie time, y’all! And that means cute little faces outside local stores, coming door to door, or like my kid, asking you politely on her mom’s blog to buy please buy Girl Scout Cookies from her personalized GS Cookie website here.

This year there is a new cookie that is only available online to purchase, and it’s only available to purchase online starting February 27. It’s the Raspberry Rally™, the thin, crispy cookie infused with raspberry flavor and dipped in chocolaty coating*. They may look like Thin Mints’® sister, but these cookies have a delicious taste that’s all their own. Remember, Raspberry Rally™ cookies are exclusively available online for shipment only.

Here are a few recipes that use Girl Scout cookies:

Thin Mint (or Raspberry Rally) Brownies: Mix up your favorite brownie batter (either from a mix or scratch, your choice), and crumble 12-15 cookies (about 1/2 -3/4 of a sleeve). Mix into the batter, and bake per directions. Crunchy, cookie bits in each bite.

Lemon Ups Cheesecake parfaits: I made these last year and they are BOMB.

For the no-bake cheesecake filling: Cream 1 8 oz. brick Cream Cheese, fold in 1 tub of Cool Whip, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

In a parfait dish (like this one), layer, Lemon Ups cookies (I cut each one into 4 pieces and scattered them across the bottom), then the cheesecake mixture, then a layer of sliced strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries (any combination), and repeat until the dish is full. Top with any remaining berries.

Refrigerate 4-6 hours, allowing time to set up (I made mine the day before I needed to serve it to give it enough time to set up).

And don’t forget Samoas cheesecake cups.

Using the same no-bake cheesecake filling recipe above, line the wells of a cupcake pan with aluminum cupcake liners (like these). At the bottom of each, place a Samoas cookie. Fill the remaining space in the cup with the cheesecake filling. Top with half a Samoas.

Drizzle the top with caramel syrup and store in the fridge 4-6 hours before serving.

Select Southern California Museums FREE ADMISSION 2/5/2023!

Here in San Diego, February is Museum month, and that means 50% off admission to selected museums. Digital passes good for 50% off of up to four passes can be printed here, or visit your local City of San Diego or County of San Diego Library branch location.

Don’t forget that there is also Free Museum Tuesdays all year long for San Diego Residents and military families.

If you have an EBT/SNAP card, you can access over 1000 museums nationwide for FREE. Check out Museums4All here for more details and search for your local museums.

If you are looking for a fun road trip, or live outside San Diego County, there is a collection of 30+ museums in the LA/OC/Santa Barbara area with free admission offers next Sunday, 2/5/23.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
American Museum of Ceramic Art (Advance tickets required. Visit to make a reservation.)
Armory Center for the Arts
Bowers Museum
Catalina Museum for Art & History
Cayton’s Children’s Museum (Advance tickets required. Visit to make a reservation.)
Craft Contemporary
Descanso Gardens (Advance tickets required. Visit to make a reservation.)
Fowler Museum at UCLA
Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University
Hammer Museum
The Getty Center
The Getty Villa (Timed tickets are required for the Getty Villa. Visit to make a reservation.)
Japanese American National Museum
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum (Advance tickets required. Visit to make a reservation.)
Laguna Art Museum
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Lincoln Memorial Shrine
Long Beach Museum of Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Advance tickets strongly recommended. Visit to make a reservation.)
Muckenthaler Cultural Center
Museum of Latin America Art (MOLAA)
Museum of Tolerance
Museum of Ventura County
Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Monica History Museum
Santa Paula Art Museum
Skirball Cultural Center (Advance tickets strongly recommended. Visit to make a reservation.)
The Wende Museum
The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum
USC Asia Pacific Museum

For more information and details, check out the website.



2023 Birthday Freebies!

I’ve been working on this list off and on for over a month. The birthday freebies are starting to trickle into my inbox. Sadly, there aren’t many additions this year, and there are more than a few previous offers/deals that are no longer available.

Remember to read the fine print for these offers. Most of them are for adults, ages 18+ (19 in some states). Some offers require the coupon/offer be printed out, and some you can just show your phone.

This guinea pig is ready for some freebies.

First off, if you live in CA, OR, FL, NY, SC, AZ, WA, and NV, check out  eBirthdayClub. There are TONS of great freebies on this site.

Non-food Birthday Goodies:

Free Food Birthday Goodies:

  • Roundtable Pizza: Download their app, sign up for their rewards, and they will add a free personal pan pizza and 20 oz soda for your birthday (Received in 2023)
  • Red Robin:  FREE burger on your birthday and all the latest Red Robin news.
  • Rubio’s   Free plate/combo (You have to download their app)
  • Del Taco  Free Shake (You also get something free when you sign up!)
  • Starbucks – Download their app and get a free birthday handcrafted beverage of your choice on your birthday only.
  • Baskin Robbins– Download their app, and you can receive a small scoop of ice cream for your birthday.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream – Free single scoop.
  • Sonic Drive-in: Free Medium beverage.
  • Denny’s: Free Grand Slam for your Birthday. They also email out other freebies and coupons.
  • IHOP: Free Meal (It varies by year) on your birthday.
  • Arby’s Birthday Club: Offers a “surprise” it changes each year.
  • Dunkin Donuts Birthday Club will kick down with a free coffee.
  • Bj’s Brewhouse Rewards members receive a free Pizookie for their birthday.
  • Jersey Mike’s: Free Sub for your Birthday! (No matter what you read online, there is no Subway or Submarina birthday Freebies- Those deals are DEAD)
  • Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt: When you sign up for a Smile-age Account, you’ll score a free Fro Yo for your B-day!  (I love Menchie’s!) Received in 2023
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes: Join their email list and receive a FREE Bundlet on your Birthday. (look for the link at the bottom of their website) Received in 2023
  • Sbarro Rewards Club: Free piece of pizza for your birthday when you purchase a drink. You’ll also get a coupon for a free slice when you sign up.
  • Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt: Free Frozen Yogurt on your birthday.
  • Sprinkles: Get a free cupcake for your birthday when you join the Sprinkles birthday club.
  • Bruegger’s Bagels gives you three free bagels for your birthday. SCORE! Our family eats tons of bagels, so this is a sweet deal.
  • D Z Akins
  • Mary’s Donuts East County peeps know what I’m talking about! Free drink and TWO Donuts!
  • Habit Burger Grill’s CharClub Score a free Charburger on your birthday.  Received in 2023
  • Panera– Sign up for MyPanera and get a free pastry or sweet on your birthday.
  • El Pollo Loco- Sign up for Loco Rewards to get a FREE birthday meal (2pc Chicken Meal or Classic Chicken Tostada Salad.)!

And as always-

There are tons of other birthday freebie lists, but they may include offers that are not available here or may include stuff that I don’t consider worth it (like a free Rice Krispy treat when you buy an entree that’s $10+, looking at you Noodles & Co.  That’s a hard pass from me, or the Aveda “freebie”- pay $10 and receive a product valued at $23+… No thanks).

Another deal that everyone and their mama go nuts about is Benihana Japanese Restaurant – a complimentary meal up to $30 when you purchase an Adult meal at Regular Price (You must sign up for The Chef’s Table club). This used to be a FREE meal, no strings attached, but it has changed to basically a BOGO. That’s a no go for me, but it may still get you excited.

I have not included Ulta in my list because you have to make a purchase the year previous (and it needs to be a certain amount- I’ve been told different amounts by various Ulta Employees anywhere from $5-$50), so for me, that’s not a freebie. If I have to buy something to receive something, that’s a BOGO deal.

January 2023: New Healthy Freebies From Social Nature!

 If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is right up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

Social Nature has rounded up products that are available to try at a local grocery store or mass merchandiser near you.  Apply to Try the products that interest you to see if you’re a match here.

Here are some of the new sampling opportunities:

Parmesan Crisps by Joyfull Bakery
Cruelty-Free Body Wash by The Seaweed Bath Co.
Premium Sparkling Tea by Sparkling Botanicals
Kids Juice Drink by PLEZI
Plant-Based Milk by Koita Foods
Meatless Nuggets by Quorn Foods
Plant-based Chicken Alternative by Sweet Earth Foods

And More!

And one of the things I love about Social Nature is that they don’t leave our friends with food allergies out.

There are sampling offers for Gluten-free, nut-free, and meat-free foods frequently.

Canadian Friends- You are in luck, there are sampling opportunities for you too! So if you love trying new products, check out Social Nature!

Tea Collection MegaSale! Up to 65% off Sale & Clearance prices!

Now through Tuesday, January 31, 2023, you can save an extra 25% off sales and clearance styles at Tea Collection! That means savings of up to 65% off regular prices.

Tea Collection is one of my favorite brands for littles. The clothes are well made and the fabric is high quality. Tea Collection lasts and lasts- It’s one of the few brands our local kids’ resale shop buys year-round.

Remember to use coupon code: JAN25OFFSALE at checkout!


Why I Gave Up Hustle Culture and Got a Full Time Job

For years, I was part of the hustle culture. I did gigs and what most people deemed to be “side work” so that I could stay home and support my kids in their education and development. Hell, I even have a page dedicated to it on this blog. 

And I did a post about the Side Hustles seen frequently on Tik Tok too. The research time it took for that was about 6 months, and it was awful. The return on investment (ROI) was not there.

Childcare here in Southern California (and the entire US) is costly and I wouldn’t be able to work full-time and bring home enough money to contribute to the family, beyond paying for daycare. Once we discovered Bubs was on the spectrum, my work outside the house was thrown out the window. There were a lot of appointments, therapies, and special help that were required. So I hustled- I spent hours each day doing surveys online, research studies online and in person, product reviews, teaching coupon classes, and doing app-based work for Field Agent and other similar apps (mostly secret shops and store/product placement audits). And of course, blogging and posting deals and affiliate links when I could make it work and not sound like I was shilling for some company. Because I have a small following, I didn’t have access to a lot of opportunities and sponsorships, in fact, after the pandemic, a lot of programs and companies changed their content creator programs to only larger (10k+ followers) audiences, leaving us little guys out. That meant, once again, it was back to the drawing board, finding new ways to make the same amount of money as before.

My original plan was to go to still blog Part-Time, as well as work Part-Time outside the home after the littlest was in school and work during school hours, however, COVID happened and plans were changed. In late 2021, I started looking for a small, part-time job, and I found one at a local school, in the district where my kids attend. It was a few hours a day, and it was a great way to ease back into working outside the house.

This fall I was offered an opportunity to become a paraeducator, assisting in a special education classroom. After discussing it with my family, and making sure there would be coverage from school pick-ups, I applied for and accepted the job. I work while my kids are at school, and I pick them up from my mom’s house right after school/work, and we have enough time for whatever appointments and shenanigans each afternoon. I have the same weekends and holidays off that they do, and I can work summer school for 6-ish weeks if I want to.

Why am I telling you all of this? The rise in popularity of hustle culture has made it harder for most of us to rely on it to get along. There is the same number of opportunities, but more of us trying to get by and scramble for all of those gigs. If you find yourself struggling with gig work and you have a set schedule that you need to abide by (for example, if you have school-age kids that you are responsible for dropping off and picking up each day), think about working jobs that support kids.

Many school districts are hiring kitchen and cafeteria workers, lunch and playground aides, and even paraprofessionals. There are few prerequisites for these jobs, and a lot of the training and guidance you get on the job. Full-time in most districts is only 30 hours a week, and full-time work comes with benefits. Most districts use EdJoin for job postings, and there are postings from teaching to classified staff. And if you aren’t available every day, you can join the substitute pool (even for classified jobs, like mine), and work per diem as you are needed.

Working in a public school isn’t going to make me rich, but the steady salary helps my family, and the consistent schedule is helpful for making appointments and doctor’s care.

Bottom line- I was tired of busting my ass to make pennies. I spent most of my 30’s working every day, trying to juggle motherhood and making money, trying to give my kids awesome experiences and fun every day while doing surveys from my phone at the park, staying up late to write reviews (a 500-word review about tampons? Come on!), and I was making less than minimum wage, but I had “Time Freedom” and I was “Able to Work Where Ever I Wanted!” and all of the other lies that hustle culture has fed us (Not to mention MLM culture, but I’ll leave that to Roberta Blevins). Now I’m happier and healthier, and I feel like I’m a better mom because I’m able to worry less about making the ends meet, and I can spend time playing with legos with the kids without having to stop every 5 minutes to post something or pack us all up to go do a secret shop or audit.

That being said, one of the few things I still do that’s posted on my Side Hustle page is Small Business Knowledge Center. It’s easy, quick, and I get paid for sending them my junk mail. It’s free Starbucks/Pizza money (Kid’s choice).

2023 Moms Meet WOW Summit is BACK!

I am so freaking excited about this event! I am requesting time off and going.

The Moms Meet Wow Summit is coming to Orange County, CA on November 10-11th!

It’s two days of learning and fun. Connect with other parents, and brands, and have some much-needed adult time on Friday night for the cocktail party.

Early Bird tickets start at only $29, and Content Creator tickets start at $99.00. All the information including speakers, sponsors, and hotel accommodations can be found here. The website will be updated as more information (speakers, etc.) become available.

1/14/2023 Weekend Freebies and Deals!

I started this post last night, but then I had to scurry to prep for all the rain we are getting over the next few days. For some reason, all of the umbrellas are in the detached garage? Who knows.

This week has been busy with work, appointments, and applying for some big campaigns for the blog, including several that will feature giveaways!

Don’t forget all of the 2022 Birthday Freebies! Make sure to check this article out and sign up for birthday freebies at least 2-3 weeks before your birthday. I am currently on the hunt for new 2023 birthday freebies!


Free Koita Foods Plant-based Milk
Free Neora Health, Skincare or Hair Care Samples
Teachers – Free Panda Express Awards & Coupons
Free Coffee at Royal Farms Every Monday
10 Free Chuck E. Cheese’s Tokens
Free Item at Taco Bell
Free Stevia In The Raw Sample
Free Set of CWPPRA Postcards
Free You Are Here Bookmarks
Free Subscription to Elle Decor Magazine
Free Lane Bryant Gift Card Giveaway
Free 2-Year Subscription to Sports Illustrated
Free Sample of Hartz Delectables Licking Cat Treats
Free Natru Care Skincare Sample
Free Sunwink Sparkling Tonic
Free CanDo Keto Krisp Protein-Rich Snack Bars at Walmart
Free ZENB Gluten Free Pasta Recipes
Free Sample of CeraVe AM Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen
Free Sour Patch Kids at Select Stores
Free Hanalei Lip Balms
Free Sample of Bio-Kult Probiotic
Free belVita Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits at Sam’s
Free HOP WTR After Rebate
Free Sandwich with the Potbelly App
Free Pretzel with Ben’s Pretzels App
Free Decoupage Mason Jar at Michaels
Free Box of Cure Hydration at Walmart After Rebate
Free Stitch Your Own Penguin Pillow at JCPenney
Free Iced Coffee Maker
Free 2023 Our Lady Calendar
Free Free2b Foods Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cups
Free Skinny Pop Jalapeno Popcorn at Sam’s
Free Mekhala Organic Cooking Pastes
Free Quorn Foods Meatless Nuggets
Free Kerasal Multi-Purpose Nail Repair + Electric File Kit
Free Pepsi Zero Sugar After Rebate
Free Self-Serve Drink at QuikTrip